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Home » Monthly Archive » February 2006

February 23, 2006

Ah, Humor! (Arr! Arr!)

Humor being in the brain of the beholder, I am not wont to criticize others for their forays into the realm of comedy. (And why should I, especially since I have a category labeled “Humor,” which is about as subtle as adding a laugh track to a sitcom.) But I came across this Red State entry that likens certain Red Sox players to Republican figures which for me fell somewhere between an episode of "Small Wonder" and a Jeff Foxworthy monologue on the scale of amusement. One definitely needs to be on the author’s side of the political spectrum to get a chuckle out of the piece. Instead of partisan persiflage, I prefer to engage in breakfast badinage.

Curt Schilling: Western omelette with lots of ham.

Manny Ramirez: It would have been easy to say something like Froot Loops, but I actually learned about yaniqueques and mangú.

Terry Francona: Creampuff. Light as air, but after long exposure his lessons stick with you.

Theo Epstein: Waffles.

David Wells: One dozen Krispy Kreme hot originals. And a beer.

Mike Lowell: Oat bran muffin in the “day olds” bin, except not as cheap.

Keith Foulke: Oatmeal. Plain at first blush, but you can add ingredients to change things up. Allegedly reduces the risk of heart disease.

David Ortiz: Remember when you had pancakes and made a smiley face out of syrup and used pats of butter for the eyes? That’s Big Papi.

Jason Varitek: Three eggs over easy, two pieces of toast with butter (not margarine), bacon, and link sausage.

Jonathan Papelbon and Craig Hansen: Organic dried blueberry granola and green tea. They usher in the New Age of breakfasts, replete with anti-aging properties.

Alex Rodriguez: He’s toast.

February 22, 2006

Curtis Edward Gowdy

I didn’t grow up in the New England area nor was a big baseball fan when I was a child, so I don’t associate Curt Gowdy with the Red Sox. Instead, when I hear his warm, open voice I think of the football games I so devoutly followed as a child.

Gowdy died on February 20th at the age of 86. For decades he crisply relayed on-field feats to his enrapt audiences. My favorite memory of Gowdy is of him narrating a special on the 2004 Red Sox. Unlike the NESN and MLB offerings, I haven’t seen this program available on DVD. I believe it was only show on the Boston-area Fox affiliate. His voice was somewhat weathered with age, but I could hear the joy in his voice during his recounting of that splendid season. Rest in peace, Mr. Gowdy. I’m glad you could see the Red Sox take it all before you left.

February 19, 2006

Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr.

I found the final resting place of “The Father of Modern Baseball” yesterday. O‘ahu Cemetery is nestled in Nu‘uanu Valley. Past visitors have left baseballs inscribed with notes of gratitude for Cartwright’s contribution to the greatest game devised by mortals. There was even a ball with Japanese written across its face.

While in Hawai‘i, Cartwright assisted in the founding of the first fire department and was its second chief. In honor of that achievement, there is a street named for him in Waikīkī. It is just a few blocks away from the existing fire station. It’s a bit of a seedy street, closer to Kapiolani Park than to the upscale shops. To be frank, it’s that area of the tourist’s mousetrap where vices are satisfied. But when you look down the one-way lane, your eyes are greeted by Diamond Head (called “Lē‘ahi” in Hawaiian, which means brow of the ahi, or tuna).

I picked up a copy of Lawrence S. Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times. It’s a bit frustrating to read it without access to Retrosheet, however. I find myself wanting to cross-check the recollections of the players. Not because I think they are willfully trying to mislead, but only because human memory is so fallible.

Cartwright Plaque

Cartwright Headstone

Cartwright Mementoes 1

Cartwright Mementoes 2

Cartwright Road

Cartwright Road View

February 18, 2006

This Is Not My Beautiful Home

Lucky you live Hawai‘i, or so the saying goes. Poring over the newspapers, though, it seems that you’re lucky you’re not homeless in Hawai‘i if you choose to live here. Lee Cataluna, a columnist for the Honolulu Advertiser, wrote about a closet being rented for $100 a month. Not only did someone secure the space almost immediately, the lessors had over 30 inquiries. The housing prices on Maui make Boston-area real estate look practically sane. The median price of a single-family home continued to drop from a record $780,000 last summer to just barely under $700K this month. Well, at least you could possibly pay for such homes with a 50-year mortgage, a product banks and loan companies may begin offering.

Today I’m going on a sojourn to find Alexander Cartwright’s grave in Honolulu. I also did some research on the player Jere of A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory mentioned in the comments to my previous post, Joe DeSa, but if the cemetery DeSa is interred is the one I’m thinking of, it will be very difficult to find him.

The University of Hawai‘i baseball team is on a tear. They beat Loyola Marymount on the road, 3-1, with right-handed pitcher Steven Wright (not that Steven Wright) pitching a complete game with only a single hit against him. The story says Wright had a career-high 10 strikeouts, but the boxscore states only 9; this discrepancy really annoys me. There’s not a statistical reason why this difference would exist, I believe. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong. Wright was invited to the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer. As a relief pitcher, he helped the Orleans Cardinals win the league championship with a 3-0 record, 12 saves, and a 0.63 ERA.

February 16, 2006

Aloha ‘Oe

According to Baseball Reference, there have been 30 players born in Hawai‘i, the first being a 24-year old pitcher who made his major league debut and departure in the same year, 1914. Johnnie Williams, called “Honolulu Johnny,” was a right-handed pitcher who made three starts, lost two games, and had one complete game for the Detroit Tigers. Since then, there have been a few more players from the islands that have made bigger impacts, such as Sid Fernandez and Benny Agbayani, both of whom played in the World Series for the New York Mets, although separated by 14 years. Fernandez pitched in that World Series while Agbayani played in the 2000 Subway Series, affectionately known to everyone outside of the five boroughs as “Who Cares?” I cared enough to cheer on Benny. I was thrilled when he was picked up by the Red Sox in 2002.

As I have written before, I have a place in my heart for any kid from the islands that makes the big time. One player that made a tremendous showing in the 2004 College World Series for Cal State Fullerton was Kurt Suzuki. That same year Suzuki was drafted by Oakland in second round as the 67th pick overall, the first Hawaiian player to be drafted.

My thoughts are turning back to the islands becase I’ll be there for the next few weeks. I can’t imagine a more ideal and idyllic place to devise my fantasy league strategies for my first foray into the hobby. Also, sheer chance, USC will be playing UH for the first time since 1993 and the First Hawaii Title Rainbow Baseball Tournament will take place while I’m there. It will be a unique opportunity to scout some players. The baseball team of the University of Hawai‘i, my alma mater, is off to a strong start. The Rainbows won the season-opening series against Tony Gwynn’s San Diego State Aztecs 4-1 and are currently 6-2.

February 13, 2006

Divine, Enshrine, Combine

Keep On Trucking
It was more like Plow and Truck Day due to this weekend’s blizzard, but it was a magnificent sight nonetheless. Monolithic moving trucks lined up along Van Ness Street to receive the team’s equipment and transport it to Fort Myers. The semis don’t just carry the mundane bats, balls, and rubbing mud, but also the burden of fans’ expectations for another season that will see their club in the playoffs.

Sports Illustrated’s John Donovan projects the Red Sox to finish third in the AL East behind the Yankees and Blue Jays. He bases his prediction on the flux caused by the completely revamped infield as well as the question marks that hover over Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke. What I find questionable about Donovan’s logic to me is that he states these pitchers’ statistics from 2005 and presumes that it is a trend rather an anomaly. In my view, the injuries Schilling and Foulke sustained were the primary cause of their poor showings, although the Red Sox closer also seemed to have some mental issues that exacerbated the physical ones.

Just do what R. Crumb says and keep on truckin’.

Shine On
The Red Sox Hall of Fame welcomes seven new members for its 2006 class:

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you read Bresciani’s interview at the Royal Rooters message board. He used to be part of the Knothole Gang at Braves Field and has also been inducted into the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame. In the interview, Bresciani divulges that there are plans to eventually make the Red Sox Hall of Fame an actual place.

Rink Synch
Rather than renovators Fenway Park will play host to Boston College hockey in December of 2006. The idea had its origins in the Fenway Sports Group, a Red Sox venture between the MLB team and the university to help the later with garnering leverage with both fans and corporations. The collaboration also publicized BC’s switch from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. No wonder Doug Flutie got those exceptional foulball seats last season!

This refactoring of Fenway reminds me of the pictures you can find at the Boston Public Library’s Sports Temples of Boston of the field being used for football.

February 9, 2006

Truthiness and Baseball

Unlike the French, I am all for the the continual reinvigoration and evolution of language... within limits. This philosophy leads me haphazardly between my virulent mistrust of truncated instant messages (or, “IMs,” if you prefer) and mobile phone texting and my wholesale embracing of flashy neologisms. The English language, vast as it is with its Germanic origins and Latin enhancements, cannot keep apace with this modern world. Fortunately for us, pioneers like Stephen Colbert are here to help us forge a path through these eerie and unknown forests of syntax.

These days, the distinctions between hope and reality, news and spindoctoring, are ever more nebulous. “Truthiness” comes to our rescue. This toothsome word pertains to that which has “the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.” Although the word is new to us, baseball has indulged in fits of truthiness almost from its inception. Here are my top 10 instances of truthiness in baseball history.

  1. Baseball was invented spontaneously by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York. Tim Wiles’s book on the origins of baseball is an assault on truthiness.
  2. “I’m not here to talk about the past,” said Mark McGwire when responding to a Congressional subpoena but not to actual questions on March 17, 2005.
  3. George Herman Ruth had a tremendous bellyache the entirety of 1925 season.
  4. There was no friction between Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein.
  5. It’s 310 feet to Fisk’s Pole.
  6. “This is about me and the mistakes I’ve made. I can’t get into specifics because of all the legal matters involved,” quoth Jason Giambi when giving a 45-minute press conference in February of 2005. He did not say the word “steroids” once.
  7. When the Red Sox invited Sam Jethroe, Jackie Robinson, and Marvin Williams to try out for them on April 16, 1945, the club had every intention of honestly evaluating them.
  8. Players cashing in on free agency using every justification but money. Roger Clemens was being truthy when he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. It is a well-known truthi-ism that this particular Canadian city is closer to Texas than Boston.
  9. Every rule in the MLB book is justifiable; just ask George Brett about 1.10(b), which has since been repealed.
  10. That is Tim McCarver’s natural hair color.

Truthiness. It’s the new black--it goes with everything.

This piece was inspired by NU50’s worship of Colbert and Fiskian Pole Shot’s vast baseball memory.

February 7, 2006

On and Off the Record

The Red Sox are looking trimmer both on the field and in the payroll by completing two signings to avoid arbitration. Right-handed starting pitcher Josh Beckett inked a one-year, $4.325M contract and center fielder Coco Crisp signed a one-year, $2.75M deal. An official announcement of the signing of shortstop Alex Gonzalez, formerly of the Marlins, was also released yesterday.

A rousing round of musical numbers accompany the new Boston players. Mike Lowell used to wear 19 with the Marlins, but now former teammate Beckett will be adorned with this prime number. Lowell will be wearing 25. The number 21 has not been granted to any Red Sox player since Roger Clemens pitched for the Olde Towne Team.

The club is using new-fangled gimmickry to lure Clemens back into the fold, according to Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald. Clemens will be presented with a sleek video consisting of fans’ supplications for his return. Red Sox chairman and television mogul Tom Werner knows what will capture the hearts, minds, and eyeballs of his club’s fandom: the re-entry of the Rocket. But how many more stages does the 43-year old pitcher have?

February 4, 2006

Preferred Providers

The Boston Red Sox proudly announce F. W. Webb Co. as the official plumber for the organization. The team is also on the quest for “an official document storage company for the Red Sox, an official timekeeping device, and an official home security provider,” as stated in the Boston Globe. What the article did not mention is that the club is also actively looking for sponsorships in the following niche categories:

  • Beachball puncture product
  • Fertilizer (supplies have been dwindling since Theo Epstein’s return)
  • Dugout waste receptacles and spitoons (to minimize slipping incidents and reduce injury risk)
  • Dreadlock maintenance appliances and products
  • Signmaker (to sustain advertising targets for the organization)
  • Soil and warning track materials (zealous fans pocket said matter for memorabilia and the team needs a consistent supplier)
  • Security services (to curtail the theft of dirt from the field)
  • Packagers of soil and warning track materials as memorabilia
The Boston Red Sox expect to have a record-breaking season in 2006. The team anticipates providing its extensive and devoted fan base with a competitive summer and believe we will return to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. To bolster this goal, the Red Sox have aggressively pursued alternate revenue streams to fund the fielding of a contending team for this season and beyond.

This release contains forward-looking statements that are based on management’s expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions. Words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “believes,” and variations of these words and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, which include but are not limited to projections of revenues, earnings, on-field performance, cash flows, and game attendance. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks and uncertainties, which are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual future results and trends may differ materially from what is forecast in forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors, including, without limitation:

  • Ability of Keith Foulke to rebound from a trying season;
  • Curt Schilling’s further recovery from injury;
  • Work stoppages and other labor problems;
  • The production of Mike Lowell returning to pre-2005 levels;
  • Terry Francona managing the bullpen rationally;
  • Jonathan Papelbon sustaining the trajectory of his meteoric rise;
  • The continued deity-like capacity of David Ortiz to produce in challenging circumstances;
  • Regulation of Julian Tavarez’s mood;
  • The presence of competitors with greater financial resources; and
  • Resolution of Josh Beckett’s blister issues.

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